A master of raffish comedy, known equally for his rakishly debonaire upper-class characters, and immortal catchphrases, much loved comedy actor Leslie Phillips has died at the age of 98. The quintessential English gentleman has dinged his final dong
When I was working in house at MOJO magazine a few centuries ago, it was somewhat serendipitous that almost simultaneously we managed to bag interviews with two legendary lotharios who were both super famous for their instantly recognisable speaking voices, Barry White and Leslie Phillips.
The phoners weren’t conducted by me, more’s the pity, but by two of our most formidable female freelancers: Penny Brignell, aka Benny P, who took care of the Bazza; and Clare Dowse, aka Mrs Slocombe, who entertained Mr Phillips, appropriately enough.
With such golden voices emanating from these vocal icons from both sides of the pond, I couldn’t wait to hear the results of the recordings, especially as it was my job to edit the White one for the new spin-off magazine MOJO Collections.
But… the only thing was, both times I was told there was no such thing. No tapes. Not a sniff of an audio this side of a Carry On film.
“It was quicker to jot what they said down, rather than having to transcribe tape“, I was informed, crushingly, not once but twice. “That’s torturous.”
As a former PA, Penny was even trained in shorthand, so that was that — no tapes required. Posterity doesn’t live here anymore. Just to make matters worse, Clare took great catty pride in assuring the office that Leslie Phillips, best known for playing suave upper-class cads, was as urbanely charming and effortlessly entertaining as you’d expect.
That he passed on November 7, the same date my grandmother died, just reminds you how long Leslie Phillips has been a British institution, and how his exaggerated “Hell-o” and “Ding Dong” entered the lexicon.
He was a little plummier than gran, of course. In fact with her foul mouth, bird’s nest hair and regulation old person clothes she was the freakily real life embodiment of Catherine Tate’s Nan in so many ways.
That one of Leslie’s last roles was a cameo as a bedridden hospital patient in the Catherine Tate Show opposite the very same sharp-tongued telly Nan was absolutely picture perfect. In other words, “What a fucking liberty!”
Leslie Samuel Phillips, actor, born 20 April 1924; died 7 November 2022